E-books have grown in popularity over the years because of the many advantages they offer over print books. Electronic books are easily accessible on multiple platforms and are portable. Availability of eBook conversion services has made the task of publishing a book easier and authors and businesses can now more easily reach out to their targeted audience.
When the eBook was first introduced, it was predicted that it will bring an end to print versions. EBooks have become a fad across the globe as they are cheaper, portable and more compact than paper books. You can instantly customize the book and give it a more attractive and stylish new look. It can be directly uploaded on ecommerce websites, online book stores and made accessible to a larger audience worldwide.
The advancement in internet technology has drastically increased the sale of eBooks. People prefer downloading eBooks over purchasing books as it is much easier to carry all their books effortlessly. But despite the early promise of the eBook, many doubt whether it has lived up to readers’ expectations. Recently, eBooks faced a severe backlash amid reports of declining sales in trade publishing. The Publishing Association Yearbook 2016 noted a 17% slump in the sale of consumer eBooks while physical book revenue increased by 8 percent. Over the last two years, audio books have replaced eBooks and shown an increase in revenue. This has made many people ask how eBooks lost their popularity.
Although some people make vague observations, there are some actual reasons for the seeming decline in eBook consumption.
- The data of the Publishing Association is still adjusting to new publishing models such as electronic books. Initiatives such as Amazon Charts are reacting to the increase in eBook subscription services and audio/eBook hybrid formats that don’t map to traditional metrics of publishing success.
- Emergent sectors of digital only sales, including self publishing are ignored by and large. Amazon facilitates most self-publishing sales and the company does not provide sales data for books published exclusively on the Kindle. Therefore the actual sales statistics of eBooks is not available.
- Legacy publishers prioritize print sales at the expense of digital books, which is a reason for reduced revenue from eBooks. EBooks are marketed at considerable discount on the hardback equivalent. This has set reader’s expectation regarding the cost of eBooks.
- Technological challenges for eBooks are not well-acknowledged despite their lack of predictability.
- PWP or Portable Web Publications move eBook reading out of dedicated apps into native web browsers. This has many advantages, but it is uncertain how eBooks will cope in this regard.
- The chief executive of Kobo, Michael Tamblyn says that the decline of eBooks is due to pricing. Traditional publishers are setting a lower price for physical books and this limits the ability of a retailer to discount or run price promotions on eBooks, and it pulls people away from digital to print books.
- Another reason for the decline of digital books is that some categories such as humor books, cookery books, and other instruction books are preferred in print form. In 2015, the fascination for adult colouring books contributed to a marked increase in print book sales.
Reports of the decline of the eBook could be exaggerated. However, if the disinterest of Amazon and resistance from the book trade continues, then there are chances that eBooks may be wiped out from the market. Publishers should see eBooks as complementary to print books rather than as a competition. Many new factors have emerged that have had an impact on reader behavior and sales pattern, and these could determine the future prospects of the eBook and print book markets. Both print books and eBooks are significant for any book publishing project in the present and near future. Providers of eBook conversion service would emphasize the fact that the eBook should not be allowed to die because it is inevitable in this digital era.